The Lord Jesus taught about salvation and the Christian life in various ways. Together they all present a much more complete understanding about what it means to believe on Jesus, receive Jesus, be his follower, etc. than just any single verse. Sometimes the Lord revealed his precious words of life through parables. In fact, in just 3 verses he gave us two very similar parables uncovering basic truths about salvation and eternal life seldom mentioned in our day:
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. (Mat 13:44-46)
The kingdom of heaven is a super treasure, but it is also hidden. The place it is hidden is in a field, not in a city where the multitudes are, thereby suggesting few rather than the majority will ever find spiritual life. The man who found it could also recognize its great value and became joyful because he knew it could be his. He was also willing to sell all he had to pay the price to get it.
The second parable about the pearl of great price is very similar. The major difference seems to be that the pearl merchant was clearly searching before he found the pearl of great price. He too sold everything he had to get it. In our day, an expensive pearl is a rare pearl that is tinted pink or bronze or may even be black! Maybe it was such a costly pearl like that which Jesus was referring to and to which he compared the salvation of the soul.
In both parables the spiritual cost was the same – all you have! Compare to Luke 14:26-33. NOTE: salvation will cost the rich man to the poor man the same – everything! The poor man is never too poor to pay the price, if he is willing to surrender his heart, but many poor people don’t! In contrast, because most rich people love and serve money the way they should be loving and serving God, they will never pay the needed price either! The price isn’t necessarily monetary wealth, but it could be included. To give up everything and sell all you have means you are going to serve God and put him first even above your own life, natural family, job, reputation, comforts, etc. To have the hidden treasure and pearl of great price will mean that your family will be divided because of Jesus (Mt. 10:34-38), you will be unjustly persecuted and hated over godly living (2 Tim. 3:12), and perhaps a whole host of other unpleasantries and sufferings, including being slandered (Heb. 11:35-39; Rom. 8:17,18; 1 Cor. 4:12,13; etc.). Most church people are repulsed by such a message, but it doesn’t change anything. JESUS must be our first love and he will not settle for second place (Rev. 2:4,5). That means we will live a life of OBEDIENCE (Heb. 5:9; etc.) and HOLINESS (Mt. 5:8; Rom. 6:16,22; Rev. 21:27; etc.) as we take his yoke upon us in submission (Mt. 11:29,30) and deny ourselves (Lk. 9:23) to follow his lead (John 10:27). It is a path which is traveled by few and the road to life is difficult (Mt. 7:14), but with God’s help you can hold on to what you have (Rev. 3:11) and not go back like a dog to his vomit. The hidden treasure and pearl of great price are likened unto eternal life, which is only in Jesus Christ (1 John 5:11,12) and only for those who pay the required price to be worthy of him. They are wise and made a great exchange.